Chatting about beauty with CEW president, Caroline Neville


This year’s CEW Awards show on QVC at 3pm on Saturday 6th May promises to be full of fab beauty brands and loads of fun. We met with the president of the Cosmetic Executive Women, Caroline Neville (pictured below with Vasiliki Petrou, chairman of CEW UK), to chat about award-winners and all things beauty.

Q: Caroline, what does CEW mean to you?

C: It’s given me the opportunity to mentor, educate and move young women and men executives through the ranks. As an employer myself since 1962 in my own public relations company, and latterly in CEW, I have always felt a great satisfaction in helping members of my teams progress up the ladder. Seeing their personal successes has been very gratifying.

I think the beauty industry provides an important service by bringing products, advice and services to make women of all ages feel more confident. It’s not about making them more beautiful, it’s about making them feel more confident. I am passionate about what I do, as I think the concept of what CEW provides is really unique.

Q: How did you get started at CEW?

C: Not many will know this, but CEW was launched by Glenda Bailey, then editor of Marie Claire UK, and established as a not-for-profit organisation for women executives working in the beauty industry. Glenda called on eight women in the industry to form a committee to look at starting CEW in the UK.

Glenda had seen the success of the organisation in New York. Hilary Dart, Susan Taylor, Michelle Thompson, Aileen Taylor, Catherine Simon-Belle, Caroline Burstein and Liz Kershaw were called upon to sign up. There were no paid employees: we were all volunteers in 1992. We were the first unofficial board and we gave our time and our staff’s time. I was the event organizer and fundraiser.

It’s all history now but Glenda left the UK to head up Harper’s Bazaar as the editor, and Hilary Dart, the first president, also left for the US to join Calvin Klein.

Hilary asked me to take on the presidency and run CEW. This I did alongside my day job of running my own PR agency, which still trades very successfully today but run by the next generation – my son, Dominic, and daughter, Louisa. A couple of chips off the old block, as they say! I am not sure where I got the energy from, but when you are young you tend to take it all on and you don’t think about it.

Q: What do you love about the beauty industry?

C: The passion of the women and men about their products. Also they are a really great group to be among when we get together at events. People are pleased when other people succeed, and I think this is wonderful. We are like a big family. This is something I personally like to foster – that community feeling – a big family.

I also love the talent within the industry. The innovation in product, creativity in the way we experience beauty in store, the way we can shop from the comfort of our own sofas, the quick and convenient e-tailer service we now have. This is an industry that has, despite everything, continued to evolve and adapt itself to a vastly different beauty landscape. Whatever has been thrown at it has been dealt with.

Q: What are your thoughts about this year’s nominees?

C: Well, Aromatherapy Associates stand out because they went through in seven categories. This reflects the wellbeing trend. This is a first for a brand to have so many products in the final line-up.

The Best New Brand category is really interesting with Bagsy, which is really impacting the cosmetic scene; Beauty Kitchen, a small, quiet, first-time-entry; and The Ordinary, a cult skincare brand out of the Deciem stable, going through into the finals. All really newcomers to the CEW Awards.

More great premium brands vying for The Best New Premium Beauty award than ever; Charlotte Tilbury, NARS, Marc Jacobs Beauty, By Terry, Bamford, Kat Von D Beauty from Kendo, and Skin Laundry.

I could go on forever but this year’s entries were really excellent overall. It was a hard call to vote for me. Firm favourite has to be Aromatherapy Associates for a major award. Best British Brand: Charlotte Tilbury; Liz Earle Beauty Company; and Aromatherapy Associates. Three great brands – any one one of them would be worthy.

Q: Do you have any advice to help people achieve their career goals?

C: Learn as much as you can by attending events where you have a beauty executive who is at the top of their game talking about their career path. Listen and learn from the professionals in the industry; you would be surprised at their journeys to the top.

Q: What do you see for the future of CEW?

C: I would like to see it become the pre-eminent organisation for beauty executives and, at the same time, I would hope to generate recognition of just how much the beauty industry contributes both socially and economically to the UK, becoming the place for young executives in the industry to come to learn. They are all the beauty executives of the future, so we need to nurture them.

Q: Are you partial to a little QVC shopping?

C: Of course. Like any woman I am interested in beauty, how to achieve a look, and how to use the beauty tools and aids. I also like to see make-up demonstrated, because you can learn an awful lot about improving your look if you know a few tricks! QVC educates and entertains!

Q: Lastly, which words do you use most often from your beauty lexicon?

C: Gleam for skin, and bounce for hair.


And now, the 2017 CEW winners are…

Best New Brand – The Ordinary

Best New Everyday Facial Skincare Product – ELEMIS: Superfood Facial Oil   

Best New Skincare Treatment Product  – ELEMIS: Dynamic Resurfacing Serum

Best New Beauty Tool or Accessory – Tangle Teezer: The Ultimate

Best New Men’s Fragrance –  Miller Harris: Étui Noir


See all items from the CEW Award show

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